William Brock announced yesterday that he would make his first European visit as U.S. Trade Representative next week in an effort to head off future confrontations with the Common Market over technology exports.
Brock, who will visit Geneva, Brussels, Bonn, Paris and London beginning next Wednesday, said part of the trip's agenda involves implementing agreements from the Tokyo Round of international trade negotiations and expanding the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
"We will be reaching for more access to other markets in everything we do from now on," Brock said.
The general term "services" includes seemingly unrelated industries: insurance, banking, accounting, engineering, under that umbrella fall two thirds of the business that the United States does.
"It's the biggest growth area," Brock said, ". . . and it's the highest yield area," generating at least $35 billion worth of business annually, and even as much as $65 billion by some estimates.
"Our [trading] disadvantage in this area [services] seems to be growing," Brock said. He termed the services and technology industries among the most-regulated businesses in almost every nation. Trade problems arise when government involvement in firms "gets to the point of discrimination" rather than fair competition, he said.
"One area in which we're obviously competitive is the knowledge-information field," and that will be a topic, he said.
Brock said he would try to lay the groundwork for discussions among the United States' trading partners regarding exports and imports of services, an area generally not covered by current trade agreements and what he has characterized before as a potentional source of international economic irritation.
He said he expects some parallel studies by the United States and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development would be necessary before discussions can begin on services trading agreements. "We want to try to get a sense of how concerned others are. We are," Brock said.
Earlier this spring, Brock, in a statement to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, referred to the service sectors as "one of the major sources of increased productivity in our economics over the coming decade."
Yesterday he said, "We have a very healthy trade with Europe. . . . They have economic problems that would hurt us if we let the relationships sag."
Among other topics Brock will address with Common Market trade officials are agricultural exports (Common Market subsidies outstrip U.S. subsidies eightfold), steel trigger-price mechanisms, the multifiber agreement on textiles, European reaction to the Japanese auto-import problem in the United States, the United States' trade relations with the new government in France and trade subsidies by various countries for their particular exports.
"The Europeans are beginning to realize we are very serious about this," Brock said of foreign government subsidies to firms that give the firms trade advantages in world markets.
"We cannot long tolerate the degree of abuse that now occurs in the trade-subsidy area," Brock said.